Maria Shriver Creates 1st Coloring Book for Alzheimer’s Patients

Maria has created the first coloring book for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers.  And we’re excited about it.  I’ve known Maria Shriver since the ’80s and even had an opportunity to fill-in for her during technical rehearsals on an NBC show called Main Street. She and Bryant Gumbel hosted it.  She’s an incredibly intelligent, affable and warm person. So, I’m delighted to share this news with you.

 

Maria with her dad, Sargent Shriver, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003
[Photo Credit:  Laurence L. Levin]

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The project was inspired by Shriver’s quest to find ways to be close to her father, Sargent Shriver, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2003.  He passed away in 2011.

“When I would go to visit my dad as his disease progressed, I had fewer and fewer things that I could do with him,” Shriver told NBC’s TODAY.

I could take a walk with him, but a lot of times he didn’t want to walk. I played puzzles with him and sometimes drew on a piece of paper.”

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Images in Maria Shriver’s book were developed through visits to the nursing home.  They include upbeat, positive, fun, hopeful images for stress-relief.

It also includes tips for caregivers culled from conversations with doctors and families.

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Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital says the coloring book can help start a conversation and help families do an activity together.

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Isaacson tells TODAY, “The person with Alzheimer’s may not be able to communicate his or her thoughts as well as they used to or may not remember what happened to the conversation 10 minutes ago, but they’re able to express themselves through art — through drawing.”

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Dr. Isaacson continues, “Some patients with Alzheimer’s like to move and can’t sit still… coloring is a great way to refocus negative energy and do something more calm.”

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June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. More than 5M Americans live with it–one in 8 people age 65 and older, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

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Maria Shriver says this coloring book is a labor of love, “I’m really hopeful this is filling a void and a need and will change people’s lives,” she says, noting she would have liked to have shared it with her dad.

“I think it would have brought laughter. It would have enabled us to do something together.”

We think so too.  Thank you, Maria Shriver.
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Visit NBC TODAY for more on Maria Shriver’s story:
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Links to Purchase Maria’s book at end of article.
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Consequently, a year ago, I was interviewed by Cable Neuhaus in the Saturday Evening Post about the health benefits of adults coloring. He saw my positive FB posts about it.

I told Neuhaus I never stopped coloring, but thought it was an oddball habit of mine.

Years ago, while working at The Crayola Experience in Easton, PA I observed parents enjoy coloring as much as kids and posted about it on FB. They looked so relaxed.

I thought they’re in the moment –essentially what meditation is all about. Makes sense.

Shortly thereafter, adult coloring books began to appear.

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See out Norman Rockwell content!

Coloring Books for Grown-ups

In Issue:

If, as some say, you can judge an entire society by the way it treats its most vulnerable, then I’d argue it is equally fair to measure a nation by the way its citizens fritter away their spare time.

Lately, Americans are frittering like mad in a couple of surprising ways: on outdoor courts playing a game called pickleball, and in coloring books.

Let’s begin with the coloring books, which are meant for adults. The craze began more than a year ago. Color me skeptical, even now, but the wild enthusiasm for this hobby shows no signs of fading. Several of the books sit atop our national best-seller lists. (Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden was the first of the blockbusters, but dozens have followed.) Who, exactly, is buying these — and why?

An admission: When I heard about this fad, my initial thought was unashamedly elitist. What kind of latte-fueled exurbanite would exchange nightly yoga classes for the joylessness of coloring? Maybe someone with no life to speak of? Okay, big mistake. Huge. Turns out that adult coloring books are a raging success across nearly every shade and stratum of the American landscape, from pastures to plains to the towers of Manhattan.

Take, as an example, Maria Dorfner, a native New Yorker who freelance produces at networks. “It calms and centers my mind,” Dorfner, an avid colorer, told me. “Adults need to learn to be more in the moment, like kids with crayons.”

Asked about a Psychology Today story that contended coloring cannot possibly constitute a spiritual experience, despite claims to the contrary by the hobby’s millions of evangelists, Dorfner says, “They’re just wrong about that.” Backing her up is a widely shared perception that coloring does indeed both soothe and heal the mind. (And let’s please agree that the illustrators of these exquisitely drawn books are artists; the color-inners are not.)

“Adults need to learn to be more in the moment, like kids with crayons,” one avid colorer says.

So, what we have here in our go-go digital age is an analog diversion for stressed-out grown-ups. One sits and colors and dreams, and the day’s tiny troubles appear to vanish.

At the other end of the spectrum is a (slightly) more physically demanding pastime, the game of pickleball. Imagine tennis played with wiffle balls and paddles on a diminutive court — Ping-Pong on a grander scale. The sport has rapidly attracted participants coast to coast, mainly among oldsters: The thrill of victory never flags, but the viability of older knees often does, alas.

This helps explain why pickleball, which has been around for a while, exploded in popularity only recently, as our aging population surged. The USA Pickleball Association reports it witnessed an 84 percent membership increase in the last two years alone and now boasts more than 400,000 active players. An Oregon documentarian is developing a movie about its rise.

Steve Brodsky, a 61-year-old Floridian, captured the excitement perfectly: “Pickleball is for older folks who’ve got the fire in the belly,” he told me. “Guys like me can feel, ‘Wow, I’ve still got it!’”

Hot on pickleball’s heels is a variation on that game called POP Tennis, a rebranded version of what we once knew as paddle tennis. Backed by a fresh infusion of cash from Hollywood agent Ken Lindner (Matt Lauer and Lester Holt are among his clients), the U.S. POP Tennis Association is currently rolling out a national tour. It’s aimed at picking up where pickleball leaves off. The appeal of POP Tennis, Lindner told me, is that “anyone can play, young or old. If you can walk, you can hit the ball immediately.”

What conclusions can be drawn from these trends? Well, whether we choose a pencil or a paddle, and whatever our age, Americans seldom let time go to waste. It’s in our character to be restless; it’s a trait that’s long served us well.

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Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Maria Shriver’s book. Links to purchasing it here:

Barnes and Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/color-your-mind-maria-shriver/1126249685

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Color-Your-Mind-Coloring-Alzheimers/dp/1944515488

If you’re an Alzheimer’s caregiver and you pick up the book, please let me know if and how it’s helped. I’d love to hear and share your story.  Email: maria.dorfner@yahoo.com
Subject line:  Caregiver Story: Color Your Mind book

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Thank you Maria Shriver for helping Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers!

mariadorfnerheadshot2   Maria Dorfner is the founder NewsMD Communications and Healthy Within Network.  This is her blog.   Contact: maria.dorfner@yahoo.com
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Cynthia’s Story: Helping Women Who Live with Chronic Pain

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Cynthia Toussiant is a former ballerina and actress (FAME) who has suffered with chronic pain disorder for more than thirty years.

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The strong, graceful ballerina’s life changed when a minor ballet injury triggered chronic pain.

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The chronic pain left the strong and graceful ballerina mute and in a wheelchair for years.

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She visited countless physicians and was continually told it was all in her head.

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Her husband, John Garrett, who has been with her for 34 years helped her get to the bottom of it.

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Turns out, Cynthia had Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) for 32 years. She later developed Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

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I talk to Cynthia and John about it: https://www.hightail.com/download/UlRUTGs2bEpLVldjZDhUQw

WHAT IS COMPLEX REGIONAL PAIN SYNDROME?

According to the Mayo Clinic, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is an uncommon form of chronic pain that usually affects an arm or a leg. Complex regional pain syndrome typically develops after an injury, surgery, stroke or heart attack, but the pain is out of proportion to the severity of the initial injury.

WHAT CAUSES IT?

The cause of complex regional pain syndrome isn’t clearly understood. Treatment for complex regional pain syndrome is most effective when started early. In such cases, improvement and even remission are possible.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

Signs and symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome include:
•Continuous burning or throbbing pain, usually in your arm, leg, hand or foot
•Sensitivity to touch or cold
•Swelling of the painful area
•Changes in skin temperature — at times your skin may be sweaty; at other times it may be cold
•Changes in skin color, which can range from white and mottled to red or blue
•Changes in skin texture, which may become tender, thin or shiny in the affected area
•Changes in hair and nail growth
•Joint stiffness, swelling and damage
•Muscle spasms, weakness and loss (atrophy)
•Decreased ability to move the affected body part

Symptoms may change over time and vary from person to person. Most commonly, pain, swelling, redness, noticeable changes in temperature and hypersensitivity (particularly to cold and touch) occur first.

Over time, the affected limb can become cold and pale and undergo skin and nail changes as well as muscle spasms and tightening. Once these changes occur, the condition is often irreversible.

Complex regional pain syndrome occasionally may spread from its source to elsewhere in your body, such as the opposite limb. The pain may be worsened by emotional stress.

In some people, signs and symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome go away on their own. In others, signs and symptoms may persist for months to years. Treatment is likely to be most effective when started early in the course of the illness.

WHEN SHOULD SOMEONE SEE A DOCTOR?

If you experience constant, severe pain that affects a limb and makes touching or moving that limb seem intolerable, see your doctor to determine the cause. It’s important to treat complex regional pain syndrome early.

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT THE MAYO CLINC AT: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/complex-regional-pain-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20022844


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Once Cynthia and John learned more about it, they rechanneled their efforts to help other women.

HELPING OTHER WOMEN

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Since 1997, she has been a leading advocate for women in pain. Cynthia gave testimony at two California Senate hearings. The first was dedicated to CRPS awareness. The second explored the chronic under treatment of and gender bias toward women in pain. Both of these efforts were the first of their kind in the nation.

Cynthia founded For Grace to raise awareness about CRPS and all women in pain.

In 2006, Toussaint ran for the California State Assembly to bring attention to her CRPS Education Bill that Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed after she got it to his desk in its first year. Her current Step Therapy bill will reform an unethical prescription practice used by the health insurance industry to save money in a way that increases the suffering of California pain patients.

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Toussaint was the first CRPS sufferer to be featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and on the Public Broadcasting System and National Public Radio. She is a consultant for The Discovery Channel, ABC News, FOX News, the National Pain Report and PainPathways, the official magazine of the World Institute of Pain. Also, she is a guide and guest contributor for Maria Shriver’s Architects of Change website. Her many speaking engagements include the National Institutes of Health and Capitol Hill.

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She is the author of Battle for Grace: A Memoir of Pain, Redemption and Impossible Love. Also, Toussaint is experiencing her first-ever partial CRPS remission largely due to the narrative therapy of writing this book.

Toussaint continues to be a leading advocate for health care reform in California. She was instrumental in changing public opinion which sparked sweeping HMO reform legislation that was signed by Governor Gray Davis in 1999. Her focus has now shifted to creating a single-payer, universal health care plan in California that would provide a model for the rest of the country.

Cynthia’s husband, John serves as Director at For Grace and was instrumental in launching the organization in April 2002 along with his partner Cynthia Toussaint, who has suffered with CRPS (and later other over-lapping auto-immune conditions) for 32 years. Garrett has been partner and caregiver to Toussaint for 34 years. He has done extensive research about the gender disparity toward women in pain, compiling a comprehensive library on that issue along with specific chronic pain conditions.

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Garrett has assisted Toussaint in all aspects of media relations and advocacy regarding CRPS awareness and the pain gender divide. His work focuses on speech presentation, grant writing, research, media outreach and the development of branding strategies. Garrett has also advised California’s Department of Managed Health Care and other state agencies regarding pain management practices in the HMO industry.

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Commenting on her long-term partnership with Garrett, Toussaint says, “My story as a woman in pain is also a love story because John’s support has been total and unwavering. Without his loving presence in my life, I wouldn’t be here.”

Garrett made numerous writing contributions in Toussaint’s memoir, Battle for Grace: A Memoir of Pain, Redemption and Impossible Love. He candidly shares the virtues and challenges of the caregiving experience.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO FULL INTERVIEW with CYNTHIA & JOHN:

https://www.hightail.com/download/UlRUTGs2bEpLVldjZDhUQw

PHOTO MONTAGE OF CYNTHIA & JOHN:
https://www.hightail.com/download/UlRUeEVhbEpubVhSc01UQw

Elizabeth Taylor Quote on Living with Pain

Women with Chronic Pain, please visit:
WWW.FORGRACE.ORG

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